The residents of rural Acton, long accustomed to reining in horses, have decided it’s time to lasso a few developers.
By a unanimous show of hands at a town meeting, more than 100 residents voted Tuesday night to lobby the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to enact strict growth and design ordinances in the town 46 miles north of Los Angeles. Such ordinances should be the town’s immediate goal, residents said.
And in a ballot vote of 64 to 15, residents decided to create a committee to study incorporating the town of 7,500 residents. The ballots were collected Tuesday night and counted Wednesday.
The feelings of most residents crowded into the Acton Community Center on Tuesday were summed up by one woman who said: “There must be something we can do now. There must be something we can do now to stop development.”
Since 1970, the town has grown by more than 150%.
Chamber Called Meeting
Residents used the 2-hour meeting to criticize everything from illegal lot splits to Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who was accused of catering to developers. The meeting was called by the Acton Chamber of Commerce, which created an incorporation study committee in May.
The chamber did not advocate cityhood, said Lynn Witt, the committee’s chairman. The chamber merely wanted to explain possible ways of controlling growth.
“We’re not telling you what to do,” Witt said. “We’re telling you what you can do.”
The residents, in turn, told Witt they would support ordinances that would preserve the area’s rural character by mandating lots of at least an acre for new housing developments. New buildings also should blend in with the community’s Old West architecture, residents said.
Edie Jeske, who owns an equipment rental company and is an Acton Community Assn. leader, said residents drew up development guidelines with county assistance in 1984. But townspeople found that county officials considered the guidelines only recommendations because no ordinance was passed to enforce them, she said.
“They are not binding, as we have found painfully many times,” Witt said.
He said it could take a year of study and public hearings to draft binding development guidelines, which would require approval of the Board of Supervisors.
Most residents supported incorporation, but some, including Vince Taglieni, said they feared cityhood would mean higher taxes. Witt said it is too early to say how cityhood would affect residents financially.
Ruth Benell, executive director of the county Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), said Wednesday that Acton does not have a tax base to support a new city. LAFCO oversees annexations and incorporations.
Steve Miller, Chamber of Commerce president, said Acton obviously is not ready for cityhood yet, but added that the town should start planning for the future.
“I talked to people in Santa Clarita and it took them 14 years,” Miller said of Santa Clarita’s incorporation in December. In those years, he said, Santa Clarita lost much of its charm and character. “The place has been destroyed,” he said.